Lisa Galvan Law, PLLC Blog

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Managing Conflict with an Aging Parent

The ongoing dispute between New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson and his estranged heirs is a classic story of estate planning gone wrong as a parent ages.

Benson, the owner of a business empire that spans two major sports franchises and a host of assets, is in the midst of a civil lawsuit with his daughter and her children, who claim that he was manipulated by his third wife in his choice to remove them from any ownership stake in his business.

Is there anything we can learn from this case? Though you likely don’t have the same financial concerns of Benson and his family, even middle class families can suffer ugly disputes as a parent ages. As an estate planning attorney in San Antonio, I see conflicts like this play out all too frequently. They may not make the news, but they are just as serious to the people involved.

Drawing upon our own experience, I have put together some steps you can take to avoid legal disputes and the collapse of family relationships as a loved one reaches old age.

Document Everything

If you are concerned about the future as you age, make sure to put all of your wishes in writing. It is not enough to scribble your thoughts down on a piece of paper (though that itself is better than nothing). Instead, it helps to take the time to sit down with an estate planning attorney to discuss your concerns and how you might better plan to avoid any confusion about your wishes should you suffer mental or physical incapacity in old age. Though I can’t speak to Benson in his case, this may have helped his family to avoid its current dispute.


While getting all of your estate planning documents in order is important, it is not a substitute for good, old fashioned, face-to-face communication. Whether you’re making a change to who inherits what or putting a living will in place, you need to make sure that your loved ones are informed. Often, the thing that causes most conflict among families with aging parents is the element of surprise. When family members learn things they do not like when a parent cannot communicate why that decision was made, it can be a recipe for legal disputes and familial conflicts. It is better to air out any changes now while everyone can effectively communicate.

Do Your Research

There are many tools available to effectively plan for incapacity. Establishing a durable power of attorney will give you peace of mind that the person you trust most will be there to handle your affairs. Other tools, such as living wills, living trusts, and HIPAA authorizations can add further certainty that your wishes will be carried out. Your attorney can help you draft documents that are tailored exactly to your needs.

At Lisa Galvan Law, I help families avoid potential conflict through estate planning documents customized to their unique needs. Give me a call at 210-820-2667 or contact me online.

Lisa Galvan Law, PLLC is located in San Antonio, Texas and serves the following surrounding counties: Bexar County, Medina County, Comal County, Wilson County, Atacosa County, and Kendall County.

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